Just because Scott Walker was declared winner of the recall election on June 5 doesn’t mean that the movement sparked by his attack on public sector workers, women, public education, public health, treaty rights, the environment, open government and the common good has gone away.
While the Democratic Party and national labor union leadership shift their focus to the Obama reelection campaign, Wisconsin organizers and activists are redoubling their efforts to resist the worst depredations of the Walker regime and to strengthen alliances within radical and progressive labor and human rights organizations.
This growing solidarity has been evident on the picket line at Palermo’s Pizza, where 125 workers have been on strike for 3 weeks. Local labor and other activist groups from throughout southern Wisconsin have joined workers on the picket line protesting health and safety conditions at the factory and supporting their right to form a union.
Last week a group of protesters turned out to the Governor’s Mansion to protest his beer and brats unity summit to which legislators from both parties were invited. They showed up to remind lawmakers that regressive social and economic policies are just as bad if not worse when both parties approve of them, and to put them on notice that citizens will continue to monitor and hold them accountable for the fallout of those policies.
Making good on that promise is a group of 40 to 50 people who continue to show up to the capitol every day at noon to sing songs of solidarity and defiance against unjust laws and economic conditions. Even though the quasi-official Solidarity Sing Along sponsored by the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice has scaled back to singing once per week on Fridays, there is a group of unrepentant lovers of free speech and open government that continue to assert their presence in the rotunda every other day of the week.
The Capitol Police have assigned at least one officer to monitor and patrol the group, and a few rightwing operatives have been seen taking pictures, tweeting and lurking around the group. One even wrote on the Solidarity Sing Along Facebook page, “Walker won – TWICE. It’s time to accept it and move on.”
Some singers worry that the Department of Administration will begin to enforce the ridiculous rules they put into place last winter outlawing protests by groups of more than three people at a time. But so far, the group has not been asked to disperse. If the latest banner hanging in the rotunda, which reads, “We’ll be here until Wisconsin gets better,” is to be believed, they have no intention to comply with any such order any time soon.
Rebecca Kemble is an Anthropologist who studied decolonization in Kenya. She serves on the Board of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives and is a founding member of the Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative.